Disneyland’s Scariest Rides for Kids

When it comes to Disneyland attractions, some guests may be unaware that some attractions are actually scary enough to frighten the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah out of kids. To keep Disneyland the Happiest Place on Earth and not make it the Scariest Place on Earth for kids, read the following guide to some of Disneyland’s most (unexpected) scariest rides.

Know that the Disneyland Resort houses some super-fast, high intensity roller-coasters that are sure to frighten some kids. Space Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland have a high thrill level. In Disney California Adventure Park, if your child is not a thrill seeker, avoid the Incredicoaster which catapults riders on a super-fast, high pace, upside down experience. These rides are definitely some of the scariest rides when it comes to smaller children that are apprehensive of thrill rides.

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Scariest Rides at Disneyland

Some of the most scariest rides for small kids are the ones you might not expect. For first time visitors, it’s essential to be prepared so you know which rides your kiddos might need preparing for or which ones to skip altogether! And making sure you have a good morning plan in place will help you see the rides you want to see before the crowds come!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad coming around the corner

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad features a rustic runaway train that barrels through canyons, travels through dark bat-infested caves, and rolls through a mine littered with dynamite ready to explode. If your child is afraid of fast-moving roller coasters, is afraid of the dark, or has a sensitivity to loud noises, you may want to avoid this attraction as it may be one of the scariest rides for small kids!

Ride this Instead: Roll through Storybook Land on Casey Jr.’s Circus Train where the only dilemma on this attraction is whether or not Casey Jr. will make it up a small hill (hint: He thinks he can… and makes it!)

Snow White’s Scary Adventures

Snow White Attraction

Snow White’s Scary Adventures. The name says it all. The Evil Queen is the star of this attraction. Mine cars roll riders through the deep, dark forest where angry trees reach for riders and the witch is ready to offer guests more horror than a tainted apple. This attraction is dark, loud, and can be very frightening for kids. It ranks high as one of the scariest rides for small children in Fantasyland.

Ride this Instead: Peter Pan’s Flight. Although this attraction has guests riding a flying pirate ship through the black night sky, the experience is quite magical. Discuss with children that although dark, no evil creature is waiting to jump out to scare them.

Snow White’s Enchanted Wish at Disneyland Park

This ride has been refurbished and is no longer considered “scary” and has been renamed Snow White’s Enchanted Wish! 

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey

Pinocchio attraction with his nose stretched

Pinocchio’s Daring Journey takes riders right into the most troublesome part of Pinocchio’s journey. Expect to encounter the evil Stromboli and hold your breath as you almost get swallowed up by Monstro the Whale. This ride has high potential for being one of the scariest rides for small children if they are not prepared.

Ride this Instead: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, although dark, and a little loud, emerges riders in a honey-filled fluorescent dream of Poohs where every day is his birthday!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Outside of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride takes riders on a car ride through hell – literally! This ride is dark, loud, and can be very scary for some kids. Taking a trip through hell might be a bit too much for some children which puts this ride in the ranking for one of the scariest rides for small kiddos in Fantasyland.

Ride this Instead: Autopia – Kids drive parents around for a change in this lighthearted motorcar ride. Cars are on a track so no need to worry about drifting into the other lane.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Scariest rides at Disney: Inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride

Pirates of the Caribbean is an iconic Disneyland attraction that takes riders on a voyage into the twisted world of drunk, thieving pirates. The two drops in complete darkness and the destructive nature of these pirates (entire towns burning and drunk, gun blazing pirates) are enough to scare little kids.

Ride this Instead: It’s a Small World is a fun-filled boat ride that takes riders around the world all in one song. Kids will be enthralled with the whimsical nature of this ride!

Haunted Mansion

Outside of the Haunted Mansion at night- dark and spooky looking

The dark and eerie Haunted Mansion is definitely a ride that should be avoided by easily spooked guests. Riders travel in a Doom Buggy into the depth of this creepy house where grim grinning ghosts wreak havoc. Even if your frightened child does make it off this ride, the idea that ghosts have hitched a ride out of the house with them may materialize nightmares!

Ride this Instead: The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Guests climb aboard a clam shell (similar to a Doom Buggy) to watch the story of The Little Mermaid come alive. This ride is dark and loud and riders do travel through Ursula’s cave so talk with your child beforehand if you plan on taking this adventure!

Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain during the daytime with log of guests going down the mountain

Splash Mountain, although great on a hot day, may not be a ride to take a timid child. The ride begins innocent enough as riders float through back country in a log. Once inside the attraction, however, things get a little… dark and creepy! Riders are destined to get soaked on this water ride that’s ultimate destination is a 50 foot plummet into a briar patch!

Ride this Instead: Mark Twain Riverboat cruises the Rivers of America where riders can get a glimpse of what life was like in the U.S. over a century ago. Cover young children’s ears when the captain blows the cannon!

Scariest Rides at Disney California Adventure Park

Most of the rides at California Adventure are fairly straight forward in terms of fear factor for parents to figure out as they view the attraction from the outside. However, there are a few that might be a bit too scary for some kiddos that are worth being forewarned about.

Guardians of the Galaxy-Mission: BREAKOUT!

Outside view of Guardians of the Galaxy ride in the daytime

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! is definitely a ride you want to skip if your child does not like long drops, darkness, and loud noises.

Ride this Instead: Jumpin Jellyfish has a similar concept with a much more manageable drop.

Grizzly River Run

Grizzly River Rapids aerial view

Grizzly River Run is a fast-pace, thrill ride that takes riders on a rough journey along a rushin’ river. Prepare to get drenched on this ride!

Ride this Instead: What kid doesn’t like to fly? Soarin’ Around the World, although dark and loud, is a wonderful experience that puts riders high above some of the most amazing Wonders of the World!


It goes without saying that one of the fastest roller coasters at Disneyland, and the only one that goes upside down, would make our list of scariest rides for kids.

Ride This Instead: If your kiddo is looking for thrills but isn’t quite ready for their first big roller coaster, Goofy’s Fly School is a great back up choice as an intro to roller coasters.

Do Your Research

Fantasmic dragon at night breathing fire

All kids are different, so what scares one kid may not scare another. Before experiencing any attraction at the Disneyland Resort, including some shows (Fantasmic! can get loud and scary at times), do your research. Check Disneyland’s website for all attraction thrill levels.

Talk to your kids about what to expect on some of these rides. Although it’s important to preserve the magic of Disneyland, you might want to explain to kids that many things at Disneyland are just fantasy.

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Disclosure: We have used all the products recommended on Mickey Visit. We may receive compensation when you click on links to some products featured.

About Kim Schultz

Kim has her Bachelor's Degree in English Literature with a minor in Technical and Professional Writing from San Francisco State University. She received her editing certificate from University of Berkeley Extension and won numerous awards for fiction writing from the San Mateo County Fair Literary Stage.

One thing she loves most in life besides family and writing is Disneyland! Kim and her family are season pass holders and travel to Disneyland numerous times a year (between 10-15 times to be exact!).

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1 comment add your comment

  1. As a big kid at 55 I know what to avoid Space Mountain, Guardians, Big Thunder and the Matterhorn for some crazy reason I have to do the Briar Patch but I’m so scared by the end
    My kids give me enough grief for not joining them
    See you in December

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